Canoes - Elder Dempster Passages - Ships Nostalgia
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Canoes - Elder Dempster Passages

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  #1  
Old 15th November 2012, 15:11
Jamie Davies Jamie Davies is offline  
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Canoes - Elder Dempster Passages

Hi
I'm researching into a canoe, we have in our collection at our maritime museum in North West Wales. We know it comes from West Africa, and following new information we believe it could have been on board a Elder Dempster ship and thrown over board on a return passage to the port of Liverpool.
This is the new information i received from a ex crew of an Elder Dempster ship (Note this is not about the canoe we have in our collection but general information):

They'd make first landfall in Freetown, Sierra
Leone, where they'd pick up 'crewboys'. These would come to the ship in their canoes which would be hauled up on deck and the crewboys would sail with the ship to their various destinations as far south as Angola, then back to Sierra Leone. They did various laboring jobs on the ship in return for a daily meal. Sometimes the canoes didn't return to their owners but stayed on board (often mixed with the timber cargo) and would be thrown overboard when the ship approached Liverpool Bay. Sometimes there would be up to 9 canoes still on the ship.

Following a conversation with him- he notes on one occasion they threw c15 canoes overboard on between anglessey and Liverpool- before reaching port.

Also i have had further information from another crew member that the same thing happened with an Elder Dempster ship off devon.

Therefore it seems this was a widespread practice and that at the time nothing was thought of it- however it may provide a source of origin for canoes within museum collections?

Therefore i wonder whether any of you remember such incidences- as it may help provide a provenance to similar canoes in museums across the UK?

Diolch
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  #2  
Old 15th November 2012, 16:39
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Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is online now
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You will find plenty about the Kroo boys and ships on the West African trade on the site. For some examples, have a look at some of the postings on:

https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showth...light=kru+boys

https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showth...light=kru+boys

https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showth...light=kru+boys
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  #3  
Old 15th November 2012, 19:30
Rogerfrench Rogerfrench is offline  
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I don't remember ever throwing a canoe overside.
Given what Krooboys used to take ashore when we got back to Freetown I can't see them leaving a canoe, which probably took a while to make.
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Old 15th November 2012, 20:07
brian3 brian3 is offline  
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certainly never happened on my one trip on " the Onitsha" we never had room for an extra matchstick never mind a canoe
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  #5  
Old 15th November 2012, 20:47
capkelly capkelly is online now  
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You have been conned, the Kroo boys came on board without canoe's, normally joined at the anchorage from a lighter and departed same way, They brought bedding and cooking utensils and were paid for their labour, had their own galley for cooking, food supplied by ship, Never even heard of dumped canoe's as the would be considered valuable by any Kroo boy. I expect you will get the same answer from any west coast man (Elders, Palm, John Holts etc.)
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Old 15th November 2012, 21:03
bev summerill bev summerill is offline  
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They were not crewboys but Kroo which was the name of their tribe in freetown as per a previous answer they came out to the ship by lighter if it was not alongside. I spent about 15 years with ED's going to west Africa as a deck officer and carried Krooboys most voyages
Bev summerill

Last edited by bev summerill; 15th November 2012 at 21:05.. Reason: spelling mistake
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  #7  
Old 16th November 2012, 00:05
lakercapt lakercapt is offline  
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I think you have been told a "tall" tale.
The Kroo (Kru) boys embarked in Freetown outward bound and worked on board the ship, at first as stevedores but latterly as general labourers. Did great job in holistoning the wood decks.
When they disembarked the personal belongings included everything imaginable and some stuff you would not think had any value. The barge was well laden.
On the tankers of Palm line when they cleaned the tanks every bit of the remaining oil was hoarded and went ashore with them.
They were paid wages and their food was provided. On the older ships a tent was rigged on top of a hatch but later ships had proper accommodation for them in the forecastle. Used to have a laundry there where they laundryman did the ships (and crews for a price) laundry. The time on board varied depending on the ports of call.
Never saw a canoe being made though there was plenty of scrap lumber from dunnage etc.
On the older ships one thing they did build was the West African ensign on the stern and it was always a happy site when that was cleared off when we were homeward bound. (Thunder box etc.)
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  #8  
Old 16th November 2012, 01:09
stan mayes stan mayes is offline  
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I made a few trips to West African ports in ships chartered to E.D's and Palm Line..We took on Kroo boys from Freetown or Takoradi..
What is this talk of canoes? Nonsense!!
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Old 16th November 2012, 14:09
alan ward alan ward is offline  
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I spent a year on the coast and worked with Kroo boys on three trips,rest assured they wouldn`t have left anything of value when they disembarked.
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Old 16th November 2012, 15:35
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I also think someone has been having you on on this one. I spent my sea going career with E.D.'s and the only canoe that ever came aboard was that of the 'Creek Pilot'. He had to use the canoe to get off again on the ship leaving the Creeks so no chance of one of those being 'left aboard'. I think a canoe would be a 'prized possession' of any West African and not likely to be left(!) anywhere.
Best of luck with your further research.
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  #11  
Old 16th November 2012, 20:27
Jamie Davies Jamie Davies is offline  
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Thanks. It looks like that it was not brought by accident or by one of the krooboys- then what is the chance it was brought back as a gift, as commissioned cargo or brought back an Elder Dempster Vessel at all?

A picture of the canoe is visible on this page:
http://www.heneb.co.uk/arfordir/arfo...ts2010-11.html

Cheers
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  #12  
Old 17th November 2012, 13:18
lakercapt lakercapt is offline  
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Hi Jamie
Looked at the canoe on your website.
I am not an expert on canoes but I don't recall seeing one like that dugout in west Africa. Course its a long time since I was there!
Could it be fron elsewhere e.g. South America??.
Don't know how that could be verified but maybe the wood type would give a clue
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  #13  
Old 17th November 2012, 16:01
ed glover ed glover is offline  
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do not remember seeing a canoe like the one in the picture looks like it has inserts for two seats buit onto the inside of the canoe?

Ed Glover
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  #14  
Old 18th November 2012, 18:13
chris booth chris booth is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Davies View Post
Hi
I'm researching into a canoe, we have in our collection at our maritime museum in North West Wales. We know it comes from West Africa, and following new information we believe it could have been on board a Elder Dempster ship and thrown over board on a return passage to the port of Liverpool.
This is the new information i received from a ex crew of an Elder Dempster ship (Note this is not about the canoe we have in our collection but general information):

They'd make first landfall in Freetown, Sierra
Leone, where they'd pick up 'crewboys'. These would come to the ship in their canoes which would be hauled up on deck and the crewboys would sail with the ship to their various destinations as far south as Angola, then back to Sierra Leone. They did various laboring jobs on the ship in return for a daily meal. Sometimes the canoes didn't return to their owners but stayed on board (often mixed with the timber cargo) and would be thrown overboard when the ship approached Liverpool Bay. Sometimes there would be up to 9 canoes still on the ship.

Following a conversation with him- he notes on one occasion they threw c15 canoes overboard on between anglessey and Liverpool- before reaching port.

Also i have had further information from another crew member that the same thing happened with an Elder Dempster ship off devon.

Therefore it seems this was a widespread practice and that at the time nothing was thought of it- however it may provide a source of origin for canoes within museum collections?

Therefore i wonder whether any of you remember such incidences- as it may help provide a provenance to similar canoes in museums across the UK?

Diolch
I can only echo what others have already said in reply. Kroo Labour (Kru) joined and disembarked in Freetown by agency lighter. I never encountered any bring canoes on board with them in fact they joined in little more than what they stood up in but disembarked with a lighter full of " goods " they had amassed during the voyage down the coast and back. Kroo Labour worked for wages and received victuals while on board they had their own cook and on some ships their own galley. Kroo Labour Portage Bills can be found in the Elder Dempster Collection in the archives at the Liverpool Maritime Museum. During my time with Elders and Palm Line the only canoes I can seem to recall coming on board belonged to the " Creek Pilots" who on occasion would take their canoe up the Creeks with them when they boarded the vessel in Forcados. I think the only thing Masters sometimes contemplated putting over the side was some of the vast amount of secondhand TVs. fridges and furniture purchased by the African Crew in UK/Europe and packed into every available space in their accommodation to be sold on their return home, although I never heard of this happening.
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Old 18th November 2012, 20:01
Roger Turner Roger Turner is offline  
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Thanks that was a real nostalgic trip down memory lane and there is not too much I can add to the tale except to say many of them had strange "Names"
Means of communication were usually via "pidgin" English and some of them had acquired names from terms heard during the voyage, such as one I remember called "Steam on Deck", another "Poor man no friend", another "No Mark" (probably overheard from tally clerks)

Somebody was mentioning their deck duties - not mentioned was the Chipping Hammer seranade. - usually orchestrated by some sadistic mate who wished to send some sort of strange tom-tom message throughout every plate of the vessel.
In essence rows of Krooboys squatting on a rough plank bench, often chipping in unison, one hand chipping, the other held to the forehead, presumably to prevent a headache.

Oh how we all loved, a week, a fortnight rolling our guts out outside Lagos, that`s after we`d spent a week or so rolling at Accra - but that`s another story. It was the perfect opportunity for ship maintenance and the rust came off the deck plates best by chipping them - if I remember correctly primed with a coat of fish oil and red leaded, deck paint oin the way home.

Sorry don`t remember canoes, can remember Kroo boy laundry though, shorts so starched together in the legs you had to tear them apart, cut you to pieces in the crotch and you got the "Dhobies" treated by the Chief Steward with Gentian Violet.If I remember correctly the laundry was conducted on a hatchboard laid over a deck cleat, where they seemed to hammer hell out of the clothes and inject them with the iron rust stains.

Last edited by Roger Turner; 18th November 2012 at 20:05..
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  #16  
Old 19th November 2012, 19:16
chris booth chris booth is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Turner View Post
Thanks that was a real nostalgic trip down memory lane and there is not too much I can add to the tale except to say many of them had strange "Names"
Means of communication were usually via "pidgin" English and some of them had acquired names from terms heard during the voyage, such as one I remember called "Steam on Deck", another "Poor man no friend", another "No Mark" (probably overheard from tally clerks)

Somebody was mentioning their deck duties - not mentioned was the Chipping Hammer seranade. - usually orchestrated by some sadistic mate who wished to send some sort of strange tom-tom message throughout every plate of the vessel.
In essence rows of Krooboys squatting on a rough plank bench, often chipping in unison, one hand chipping, the other held to the forehead, presumably to prevent a headache.

Oh how we all loved, a week, a fortnight rolling our guts out outside Lagos, that`s after we`d spent a week or so rolling at Accra - but that`s another story. It was the perfect opportunity for ship maintenance and the rust came off the deck plates best by chipping them - if I remember correctly primed with a coat of fish oil and red leaded, deck paint oin the way home.

Sorry don`t remember canoes, can remember Kroo boy laundry though, shorts so starched together in the legs you had to tear them apart, cut you to pieces in the crotch and you got the "Dhobies" treated by the Chief Steward with Gentian Violet.If I remember correctly the laundry was conducted on a hatchboard laid over a deck cleat, where they seemed to hammer hell out of the clothes and inject them with the iron rust stains.
Hello Rodger,
Forgot about the "chipping hammers at dawn" remember the old electic chipping hammer wealded by the bosun or bosun's mate?
I well remember the laundrymen and the treatment they gave your whites like you say stiff as the hatchboard they used. Remember when some to them didn't change their water as often as they should have done - the smell of your gear left much to be desired when it was returned to you!
Regards,
Chris.
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  #17  
Old 23rd November 2012, 00:25
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Peter Martin Peter Martin is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Turner View Post
Thanks that was a real nostalgic trip down memory lane and there is not too much I can add to the tale except to say many of them had strange "Names"
Means of communication were usually via "pidgin" English and some of them had acquired names from terms heard during the voyage, such as one I remember called "Steam on Deck", another "Poor man no friend", another "No Mark" (probably overheard from tally clerks)

Somebody was mentioning their deck duties - not mentioned was the Chipping Hammer seranade. - usually orchestrated by some sadistic mate who wished to send some sort of strange tom-tom message throughout every plate of the vessel.
In essence rows of Krooboys squatting on a rough plank bench, often chipping in unison, one hand chipping, the other held to the forehead, presumably to prevent a headache.

Oh how we all loved, a week, a fortnight rolling our guts out outside Lagos, that`s after we`d spent a week or so rolling at Accra - but that`s another story. It was the perfect opportunity for ship maintenance and the rust came off the deck plates best by chipping them - if I remember correctly primed with a coat of fish oil and red leaded, deck paint oin the way home.

Sorry don`t remember canoes, can remember Kroo boy laundry though, shorts so starched together in the legs you had to tear them apart, cut you to pieces in the crotch and you got the "Dhobies" treated by the Chief Steward with Gentian Violet.If I remember correctly the laundry was conducted on a hatchboard laid over a deck cleat, where they seemed to hammer hell out of the clothes and inject them with the iron rust stains.
Reminds me of a return to Birkenhead after a trip down and back on Dunkwa. I had developed a nasty rash in my groin which was not improved by manic scratching. Went to see family doctor who'd known me since I was born, I feared that I had contracted some dreadful infection from a lady of the night somewhere in Liberia. The relief to be told that it was Dhobi Itch and that it was easily remedied and that I would not die from a debilitating brain disease in an asylum.
Happy days!
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Old 23rd November 2012, 13:03
alan ward alan ward is offline  
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I`ve posted this before somewhere and apologise if it was on here but the remarks about the stuff the crew bought on the Uk coast reminded me of an incident which has played on my mind for some time,I hesitate to say haunted but not far off.
Sailing from Liverpool on the Owerri the Purser posted a notice outside the office door on the maindeck which invited all crew members who had brought their purchases of sewing machines and sundry furniture to report its presence on board and pay a small fee for its carriage to West Africa.The following morning saw a queue of men waiting to sign for the 3 or so that was required,a few more came the next day and the notice was replaced by another saying that this was their last chance to make the payment or their stuff was in peril.This resulted in a couple of reluctant payers,then the ship was searched.In the tunnage hatch just for`d of the crew accomodation a wardrobe and a mahogany double bed were discovered.The owner of the wardrobe came forward and acknowledged that he`d pay,however the owner of the bed wouldn`t have it,he wasn`t paying and shouted the place down.The OM Ronnie Greenwood and the Mate George Paton told me and a Cadet to throw it overboard.We raised the bedframe onto the railing and waited,worried about the situation,by now the beds owner was beside himself with temper and rage climbing over the rail he held on with one hand and leaned over the side saying if the bed goes over so would he.The OM told us twice to heave it over so we did,closely followed by the AB.Immediate panic,figure of eight turn and the pick up of the jumper.On our arrival at Freetown he was paid off with a bad discharge and,no doubt,problems getting a ship again certainly with ED`s.When I came home I told my father about the incident in the way only a 17 year old can half-amused,half-ashamed he did not see the funny side of it at all,with hindsight neither did I.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 15:20
Wribbenhall Wribbenhall is offline  
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Originally Posted by alan ward View Post
I`ve posted this before somewhere and apologise if it was on here but the remarks about the stuff the crew bought on the Uk coast reminded me of an incident which has played on my mind for some time,I hesitate to say haunted but not far off.
Sailing from Liverpool on the Owerri the Purser posted a notice outside the office door on the maindeck which invited all crew members who had brought their purchases of sewing machines and sundry furniture to report its presence on board and pay a small fee for its carriage to West Africa.The following morning saw a queue of men waiting to sign for the 3 or so that was required,a few more came the next day and the notice was replaced by another saying that this was their last chance to make the payment or their stuff was in peril.This resulted in a couple of reluctant payers,then the ship was searched.In the tunnage hatch just for`d of the crew accomodation a wardrobe and a mahogany double bed were discovered.The owner of the wardrobe came forward and acknowledged that he`d pay,however the owner of the bed wouldn`t have it,he wasn`t paying and shouted the place down.The OM Ronnie Greenwood and the Mate George Paton told me and a Cadet to throw it overboard.We raised the bedframe onto the railing and waited,worried about the situation,by now the beds owner was beside himself with temper and rage climbing over the rail he held on with one hand and leaned over the side saying if the bed goes over so would he.The OM told us twice to heave it over so we did,closely followed by the AB.Immediate panic,figure of eight turn and the pick up of the jumper.On our arrival at Freetown he was paid off with a bad discharge and,no doubt,problems getting a ship again certainly with ED`s.When I came home I told my father about the incident in the way only a 17 year old can half-amused,half-ashamed he did not see the funny side of it at all,with hindsight neither did I.
A disgusting Shameful incident,but that is just what I would expect from some British Masters and Chief Mates in companies like E.D.s. whose treatment of their third-world crew (and others )was often appalling.
It's a wonder the O.M. didn't provoke a full scale mutiny with his conduct and potentially 'murderous' action.
I suppose he recorded the incident in the Log as a Man Overboard Practice Drill.
I sincerely hope he was reprimanded by ED's,for make no mistake they knew everything that went on aboard their ships because people talk- but I somehow doubt it.
Africans also never forget,and it's a wonder he wasn't 'bumped off ' on a later visit to that port.

W.B.H.

Last edited by Wribbenhall; 23rd November 2012 at 23:05..
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Old 23rd November 2012, 23:52
Roger Turner Roger Turner is offline  
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Ref.Mayhem on the Coast
Spent 10 years in Elders and not aware of anything of the previously described nature happening, but that`n not to say the residents didn`t learn bad habits all by themselves.
Once carried a Nigerian chief of police as a passenger, asked him what was the most common crime - he said connivery - from the rash of internet scams originating in Nigeria over the last 20 years or so - nothing has changed

Sailed on one ship where the second mate circumcised his monkey.

Still can`t do the Liverpool accent very well, but sailed on another ship, where an African Grey parrot was loaded as cargo or baggage for the UK and put in the Bosun`s charge - apparently it didn`t say a word except screech, until the channel was reached and it came out with all the words visitors to the Bosun`s cabin greeted him with "Jallo der wack" etc - do you think it got "The Channels"?

Last edited by Roger Turner; 23rd November 2012 at 23:54..
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  #21  
Old 29th November 2012, 21:22
bev summerill bev summerill is offline  
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I spent nearly 15 years as a deck officer with EDs which was a good company to work for even after blue flue took over. the story about charging the crew for their goods must have been a one off as I never came across it.In fact I think the story is a load of s;;t. I sailed with native crews most of the time.freetown mainly but also Nigerians and Ghana deck crew and got on well with all of then bev summerill
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Old 30th November 2012, 08:11
Wribbenhall Wribbenhall is offline  
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I spent nearly 15 years as a deck officer with EDs which was a good company to work for even after blue flue took over. the story about charging the crew for their goods must have been a one off as I never came across it.In fact I think the story is a load of s;;t.... Bev Summerill
Yes,I did think the story was probably rather apocryphal myself.
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Old 30th November 2012, 09:12
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It's a true story, I saw it myself once - not actually throwing stuff over the side but listing all the furniture and making the crew pay freight after threatening to ditch it. As I only sailed on a couple of ED ships and "Dalla" was on the USA run, this must have been on "Falaba", 1970, Tilbury to Freetown, Takoradi & Lagos. My first ship.
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Old 30th November 2012, 10:08
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Charging the crew for cargo did happen. I saw it during my first trip as Purser's Clerk with ED's when the OM had the tunnage hatch checked before arriving at Lagos. I think it was only a nominal amount charged if I remember rightly.
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Old 1st December 2012, 12:22
Roger Turner Roger Turner is offline  
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The Purser was required to check the fares of all deck passengers and charge for those not previously taken by the Agency.
I suppose that would also apply to cabin passengers also - even the cabins of the crew - I was the subject of much ribaldry about my failure to collect the fare of a "passenger" who accompanied a certain 3rd Engineer on passage from Aarhus to Copenhagen (Yutta? if I remember her name correctly)
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